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On October 17, 2018, I held my research talk Automating Scientific Research in Optimization at the Institute of Automation and Information Systems (AIS) of Prof. Dr.-Ing. Birgit Vogel-Heuser of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Munich, Germany.

Automation is a field in the intersection of mechanical, electrical, and software engineering, also using techniques from machine learning and operations research. The general goal is to increase the production efficiency and quality as well as reducing costs and the time to market. The AIS contributes to this goal with their work on the SFB 768 ("Managing Cycles in Innovation Processes – Integrated Development of Product-Service Systems Based on Technical Products"), which recently has received the third round of funding – a very rare achievement for such research projects. The research fields of the AIS include Human-Machine Interaction, encompassing data integration and processing to support the human, Model-based Engineering, including variant-rich, interdisciplinary manufacturing systems, Intelligent Production Systems, especially reconfigurable, distributed cyber-physical production systems, and Big Data in Automated Production Systems, where methods for aggregating, analyzing and preparing Big Data are researched. The AIS has quite a lot of impressive hardware systems, from functional models of manufacturing systems to real machines which are used as basis for research projects.

The research direction Optimized Management, Planning, and Operations Research of our own group has a lot in common with the intelligent production area of the AIS, but we come more from the software, optimization, and theoretical side, whereas the AIS comes from the actual application direction, which is often explored directly on actual machines. Visiting the AIS and presenting here was therefore quite interesting. The interesting discussions with the AIS researchers before and after may talk, as well as the tour through the institute, were a pleasure as well. I was also happy to meet Prof. Vogel-Heuser again, after almost ten years since my time at the University of Kassel, where she was a member of my PhD defense committee.

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On October 16, 2018, I held my research talk Automating Scientific Research in Optimization at Swarm Intelligence and Complex Systems Group of Prof. Dr. Martin Middendorf at the Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science of the University of Leipzig in Leipzig, Germany.

The group is focused on the field of complex systems which they tackle with swarm intelligence, bio-inspired computation and optimization, and organic computing. They also tackle issues in phylogeny and reconfigurable architectures for parallel computing. One of the many contributions of this group is a large set of open source software systems, for phylogenesis, RNA and mitochondrial genome analysis using optimization algorithms. I know Prof. Middendorf for more than seven years personally and have deep respect for his work: His Population-based Ant Colony Optimization algorithm is the best (non-hybrid) metaheuristic approach that I know for the Traveling Salesman Problem and also a component of the best hybrid approach in all the experiments I have conducted with our TSP Suite in, e.g., our 2014 study. Its derivatives also performed very well in our recent study. Furthermore, researchers affiliated with the group recently won the world championship in the RoboCup tournament, which is a very outstanding achievement.

I met Prof. Middendorf several times in China before and know him since 2011. In 2017, I visited his group for the first time and it was a very nice experience. Visiting him and his team again made me quite happy and my talk was received well, too, and we had a very nice discussion afterwards. I want to thank Prof. Middendorf and his team for their hospitality.

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Our institute warmly welcomes Dr. Sophea Chhun from the Department of Information and Communication Engineering (GIC) of the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC) [វិទ្យាស្ថានបច្ចេកវិទ្យាកម្ពុជា] for a research stay from October to November 2018. Dr. Chhun has obtained her PhD degree from the Université Lumiere Lyon2 in 2014 and her Master's degrees in Computer Science from the Télécom SudParis - École d'ingénieurs du numérique and from the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Thailand. She is now lecturer and coordinator of the Master's program at the GIC. The research interests of Dr. Chhun are Data Mining, Data Analysis, Feature Selection, Business Process Re-Engineering, and Natural Language Processing. Her work therefore is related to our projects on Service-Oriented Architectures as well as the Distributed Computing research field of our institute. Her works on intelligent job matching and prediction are closely related to our research field Optimized Management. Our team is looking forward to working with Dr. Chhun. Welcome to Hefei!

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On October 15, 2018, I gave the research talk Automating Scientific Research in Optimization at the chair of Algorithmic and Discrete Mathematics of Prof. Dr. Christoph Helmberg at the Department of Mathematics of the Chemnitz University of Technology in Chemnitz, Germany.

Prof. Helmberg is mainly interested in research on discrete optimization, semidefinite programming, and convex optimization as well as their applications. He has led several successful industry projects with partners such as Deutsche Bahn, Herlitz PBS, and Nokia Siemens Networks. His team works on a variety of theoretical aspects and improvements of optimization algorithms as well as on concrete applications, including the synergetic interplay of energy and information technology and optimization of schedules in manufacturing systems.

Although the group's focus is more on linear relaxation, they were interested in the talk topic and we had a very lively discussion afterwards. It is always nice to come back to my uni, presenting in the same rooms where I learned as a student 15 years ago. And Prof. Helmberg was a great host, too.

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On October 12, 2018, I gave the research talk Automating Scientific Research in Optimization at the chair of Mathematical Programming of Prof. Dr. Stephan Dempe at the Institute for Numerical Mathematics and Optimization of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science at the Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg in Freiberg, Germany.

Prof. Dempe is well known for his works on algorithms for discrete and non-differential optimization problems, and especially for his many years of great contributions to the fields of bi-level and multi-level programming. As part of this outstanding work on bi-level programming, he frequently publishes articles in top-level journals. The Optimization Team as a whole conducts research on mathematical optimization in the fields of parametric and non-differential optimization, as well as in uncertain and discrete optimization, also including transportation problems.

The very international audience attending my talk was quite interested in the topics discussed and we had a nice discussion afterwards. I was very happy about the chance to meet Prof. Dempe, who, like me, has spent a share of his academic life a the TU Chemnitz.

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